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How to Cope with a Cat that Wakes you up at Night

Updated on May 20, 2009

Cats are nocturnal creatures, so it may not come as a surprise the fact that you may find it quite challenging to coordinate his sleeping hours to yours. After all, if you take a close look into your cat's physical features, you will recognize attributes typical of night time creatures, such as those disproportionately large eyes compared to the head and the eye's ability to provide vision in dim lights. Add on top of that the cat's whiskers that act as powerful radars so to allow swift movement in dark areas without accidentally bumping into objects.

So there you have it, a feline companion genetically programmed for night time stalking and a human being crafted to doze off after sunset. Two completely different species obliged to co-habitat  and accept their night and day (pun intended!) differences. So what to do if your cat's night shift kicks in right when you are about to hit the pillow?

First of all, you must try to identify what is keeping your furry friend awake. Let's take a look of what may be going on in your cat's mind.

-If you bring your cat in bed with you, of course, his hunting instincts will kick in if you tend to wriggle your toes and move your feet around a lot. In a cat's eyes your movements under the sheets are the equivalent of mice bouncing around under tall grass, something too irresistible to let go. 

-If your cat tends to nod off all day sleeping impressive hours (up to 16 hours a day!), of course at night he will be a fur-ball full of energy and you may hear him rattling toys around and acting crazy. Your cat may be actually anxiously awaiting night time to celebrate and hold catnip parties.

-If your cat wakes you up at 5:00 AM meowing in your face asking for food, this may occur because you have rewarded this behavior by feeding him at odd hours. When it comes to training owners cats can be excellent teachers, you may own the cat version of  Cesar Milan.

-If you own a senior cat that howls in the night, he or she may be suffering from a condition similar to Alzheimer's disease. This condition is not reversible but the symptoms may regress a bit with proper medications prescribed by your vet. 

Now to possible solutions to better coordinate your two totally diverse sleeping habits:

-Tire your Cat

Is your cat sleeping during most of the day? Then wake him up and keep him active. Pull away those curtains and have him enjoy daytime activities such as bird watching. Exhaust him with a game of fetch. Purchase one of those remote controlled mice and let him chase it for a good amount of time. Anything to keep him from snoozing all day long.

-Close your Bedroom

Is your cat paying you frequent visits attempting to wake you up in the night or very early morning? Close the bedroom and ignore his attempts to scratch the door or meow. After a few days of trying to get you to open the door , if you are strong enough to resist (put earplugs if necessary) eventually he will give up.

-Leave Food Out

Cats have great strategies to wake you up and turn you into his favorite food dispenser. Try to ignore all the meowing, knocking off items from your bed stand and scratching at your door. Solve his night time cravings by leaving out food for him or purchase a food dispenser with a timer. 

-Have him Checked

If you own a senior cat that meows at night , he may be suffering as previously mentioned from a disorder similar to Alzheimer's known as Feline Cognitive Dysfunction Disorder. This condition disrupts the cat's sleep cycles and causes him to become disoriented and scared at night because he may become disoriented and no longer recognize his familiar surroundings. There are medications that can be given to treat this.

-Ask your Vet 

If regardless of all your attempts your cat keeps waking you up at night, ask your vet about using Melatonin. This is a natural remedy that may help calm your hyperactive cat down while reversing phobias or sleep disruptions. Only your vet may provide you with dosing instructions and advice on when and how to administer this remedy. 

As seen, there are various things you can do to tire your hyperactive nocturnal pet. With just a few strategies, you may be able to co-habitat with your cat peacefully again and allow those dark circles to finally vanish from your eyes once and for all.

''Ok, Midnight, see you tomoroow at 12 AM sharp for out catnip party!''


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    • Vala Faye profile image

      Vala Faye 6 years ago from Belgium

      Great article on a topic that's a nightmare to many people out there! I love how you listed first the 'why' to then go on to 'how to' fix it. That way people also can understand their furry friend better, while training it to follow their schedule.